Body found early Wednesday morning

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

SAN DIEGO - Cold weather conditions are being blamed for the death of an illegal immigrant whose body was found in the brush of an area in the south east portion of Duval County Wednesday morning.

According to Duval County Sheriff's Department reports, shortly after 9 a.m. Wednesday a motorist on Farm to Market Road 339 near Farm to Market Road 3249 stopped a passing sheriff's department deputy and informed him of a couple walking on the roadway near the area.

The deputy reportedly made contact with the man and woman a short time later, and found the woman lying in a puddle of rainwater near the roadway.

Both individuals, believed to be illegal immigrants, were suffering from hypothermia, and reportedly informed the deputy another woman had passed away two hours earlier a short distance away.

The body of a 20-year-old woman was reportedly located by deputies a short distance from the scene.

Chief Deputy Bruno Valdez, with the Duval County Sheriff's Department, said Wednesday no identification was found with the woman, but the couple identified her as a Nicaraguan national.

Valdez said evidence discovered at the scene, as well as testimony from the two individuals, indicated the three had been traveling through the brush with a larger group for two or three days and the woman had expired as a result of hypothermia several hours before they were found.

All three individuals were wearing light clothing and had attempted to fashion rain coats out of trash bags, Valdez said.

According to the National Weather Service, the temperature in Duval County Wednesday morning reached a low of 41 degrees, and a wind chill in the mid-30's.

Valdez said the harsh weather conditions may have caught the illegal immigrants by surprise.

"We haven't had this kind of weather, and it's unpredictable," Valdez said. "Everything's wet, so they were unable to start a fire to keep them warm."

The surviving couple, an 18-year-old man and a woman in her 30's, were turned over to the U.S. Border Patrol Wednesday. Valdez said the Nicaraguan consulate would be contacted to recover the body of the deceased woman. No autopsy has been ordered in the case.